The World’s Largest Medical Marijuana Dispensary vs. One Rogue Prosecutor

In Dispensaries, Regulatory, Top Stories by Chris DollardLeave a Comment

This story was originally published on July 6, 2015. Here’s the original writeup: Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California, is the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world, serving nearly 200,000 patients and distributing $25 million in cannabis per year. It does so out in the open, under the auspices of California law and Oakland’s regulatory regime. Federal prosecutors, however, maintain an unfriendly stance on state-legal medical marijuana: it’s still illegal under federal law, and must be stopped. Since 2009, the Department of Justice has repeatedly directed its U.S. attorneys not to bring legal action against cannabusinesses operating in clear compliance with state law. But in 2011, the federal prosecutors in California announced a crackdown on dispensaries, shutting down hundreds through civil forfeiture actions. The prosecutor for the northern district that covers Oakland, Melinda Haag , has been particularly persistent. “In July of 2012, a civil forfeiture notice was taped to our front door, and we were shocked,” says Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo , “because our model has always been about legal compliance and responsibility.” DeAngelo opened Harborside in 2006 to be the first of a new breed of dispensary that was safe, transparent, and beneficial to both patients and the surrounding community. “For many years, I’ve dreamed of creating an environment that was really worthy of this magnificent, almost magic plant,” says DeAngelo. Harborside offers a litany of medical support structures, including free substance abuse counseling, holistic care, and services tailored to the needs of both elderly patients and children. After all the commercial labs in the Bay Area refused DeAngelo’s request to test his cannabis due to federal law, he simply started his own facility, Steep Hill Labs , which went on to pioneer testing methodologies and treatments. Harborside became the first dispensary in the world to […]

Leave a Comment